No need to travel abroad to immerse your family in ethnic foods, languages and customs. These distinctive North American cities will make your next vacation a bon voyage.
By Diane Bair
This town is known for its world-famous Tulip Time festival in May, which draws more than 500,000 people to see millions of tulips in bloom. But Holland, nestled on the banks of Lake Michigan, boasts quaint Dutch charm and outdoor fun any time of year.
Start here: Hop on the trolley and ride through the cobblestone streets and brick alleyways of the historic district, stopping along the way at your choice of more than 120 shops and galleries. Visit Nelis' Dutch Village, where you can watch Klompen dancers perform Dutch folk dances and take a ride on a zweefmolen (swing ride). On a guided excursion to Windmill Island you'll learn about Dutch culture, watch arts and crafts demos and climb a 240-year-old windmill.
Ethnic flavor: Alpenrose restaurant offers specialties from the Alps region, like jaeger schnitzel (beef, pork or veal cutlet) and Swiss steak. Stop at the Hungry Dutchman Cafe at Dutch Village for bankets (almond-filled pastry logs), pea soup or pigs in a blanket (stuffed cabbage rolls).
More to explore: Pedal the bike path along Lakeshore Drive, which connects Holland State Park and Grand Haven, hopping off at several of the beachfront parks you encounter. Land a trophy catch on a Lake Michigan fishing charter or explore the lake on a rented wave- runner or power boat.
Stay here: Holiday Inn Express (866-315-6182; suburbaninns.com) has a large indoor pool, outdoor spa, sports court and oversize rooms, starting at $120 a night. Country Inn By Carlson is a hit with families, thanks to its free continental breakfast, indoor pool, reasonable rates and location next to Nelis' Dutch Village (888-201-1746; countryinns.com/hollandmi). Rooms start at $89.
For more information Holland Convention and Visitors Bureau (800-506-1299; holland.org)